GILES COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ7) WDBJ7's Mornin' Pep Rally experienced two firsts Friday morning. Not only was it the first time Giles High School hosted the elaborate event, but it was also the first time we had a principal get pied in the face on live television during a pep rally!
Principal Tim Hollar knew he had to bribe his students to get them to show up at school two hours before class even started. With the help of the band, word quickly spread that Hollar had agreed to take a pie to the face if the student body got at least 50 people to show up at 5:30 a.m.
And show up they did!
At least 100 students packed the gymnasium. The band was loud and proud. The cheerleaders came out strong. The football team and undefeated volleyball squad were pumped for their upcoming games Friday and Monday nights.
At the pep rally Friday morning several students wore yellow ribbons on their shirts in support of a fellow high school student. Earlier this week, a cheerleader from Narrows High School was diagnosed with bone cancer.
Narrows and Giles are two rival schools and will battle it out on the gridiron Friday night, but they're also one community. Both schools are rallying around Alexius Dawson and raising money at the football game for her cancer treatments. The county is branding its support #AlexiusStrong on social media.
WDBJ7 always highlights what cool things are happening at the high schools. Principal Tim Hollar said one of the most important things they do at the Giles High is prepare students for the future and equip them to take on life's challenges.
"We live in a very dangerous world and I feel that we have an obligation to our students to prepare them for what lies out there," Hollar explained.
One of the programs the school has been teaching for over 10 years is R.A.D.: Rape-Aggression Defense. The class coincides with the non-profit Help Save the Next Girl.
"This can help them learn to be aware of their surroundings," Erin Burton, the program's director, said. "Learn to be aware that there could be something dangerous around them and they could also learn how to react."
Senior Star Robinette took the class two years ago and said the lessons have stayed with her to this day.
"I feel very confident that if something like that happened, I'd have a better chance than before," Robinette said. "It also helps the mindset to think like, 'you can be confident, you can use your voice' and different things and get away."
The school also invites guest speakers to talk to students about other aspects of safety. This week, Stephanie Bryson with the Women's Resource Center spoke to students about what to do when witnessing violent behavior.
"Our program here today is called, 'Stand Up, Speak Up,' where we are encouraging students to be active bystanders when they observe relationship violence happening to their peers," Bryson explained.
Cameron Moore said these lessons go beyond the classroom.
"It'll help us speak out to prevent it and help us give courage to other to speak out too," Moore said.
Overall, Hollar said these kind of programs are about empowering students.
"We want students to think for themselves, not to have to rely on something that they're just going to have to guess," Hollar said. "And if we give them the opportunity to have these experiences now and to think about what that future might be, they'll be better able to prepare themselves for something that may happen later in their life."
The school also empowers their students to be their own advocates and they've got two programs that help students make healthier choices about their lives.
John Miller and Andrew Fraizer are the Outdoor Club's sponsors and say it's a way to get kids to take a break from technology.
"With the advent of social media and those kinds of things, those kinds of stressers, I don't think we really have an understanding of the impact it can have on kids, and give them an outlet to get away from all of those things," Miller said.
It also gives them something new to try.
"We decided that there was a lot of great recreational activities and availability in this county so we thought it would be a great idea to encourage kids to get out and do that kind of stuff in a safe environment," Frazier said.
"It makes you feel good," junior student Mason Gray agreed. " I like to be outdoors. I can get bored when I'm trapped in my house. I think people should be a part of this club to get outside more and do things they wouldn't be able to do on their own."
Another student program is called Y Street, where Ruthie Brown is a leader.
"Y Street is youth volunteer initiative through the Virginia Foundation for Healthier Youth, so the youth work together to promote a healthier Virginia in the schools and in the community," Brown explained.
The group has organized campaigns like Rev your Bev and even created a bill to expand school policies regarding tobacco use.
"We just kind of erased those gray areas and we met with senators and delegates and we asked them to support our bill," Brown said excitedly. "And we got it passed and it was a law on July 1 that made all schools 24/7 comprehensive with our tobacco free policy."
Brown says she wants to pursue a career in policy change and advocacy. For Hollar that's what these opportunities are all about.
"I like to think that everything we do here at Giles High School has an educational base and it's always based on something about what they're future will be," Hollar said.
WDBJ7's Mornin' Pep Rally goes to Brookville High School next! Tune into WDBJ7 Mornin and WZBJ24 at 7 a.m. September 27.
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